Once upon the time there lived a magical bird called Phoenix, AKA the Firebird. If you believe the legends, it is still alive and hanging around somewhere because it self-immolates every 500 years and then rises from the ashes. A Phoenix named Fawkes, nurtured after every immolation by Professor Dumbledore (we do get the joke, Mrs Rowling!), plays an important role in Harry Potter’s adventures and saves his life more than once.
Firebird is featured prominently in Russian folk art, originating from Slavic folk tales.
Grabbing the magic bird by the tail and pulling out a feather transforms Prince Ivan into a powerful hero who defeats the evil king and – wouldn’t you know? – gets the girl. The story inspired a famed Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, who wrote a ballet, often performed as a concert suite.
As I created this dazzling appetizer which came completely out of my funky brain, I remembered reading William Price King’s article in Smorgasbord Blog Magazine, dedicated to yet another exceptional “bird” – Charlie “Bird” Parker. I’ve always loved the great saxophone player, yet I have not realized that his Yardbird Suite is a pun on Stravinsky’s Firebird. But I’ll let William tell you all about it: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-jazz-charlie-bird-parker-saxaphone/
Meanwhile, while enjoying this sparkling, fiery music, I decided that magical birds should lay fish eggs in nests.
To make that happen, I first put my husband to work. Here he is, dicing lox. Don’t worry, I am not staying idly by!
I am combining magical non-dairy ingredients, Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. You can make it as creamy as you want by adjusting the proportion of sour cream, but make sure to preserve the fluffy, airy texture.
To build the nests for magical eggs, seen here in their original Russian jar, I used Alfalfa sprouts.
Here, diced lox is introduced to the creamy Tofutti mix and enhanced by fresh chives, shared by friends who belong to an urban garden cooperative.
It may look as if the Alfalfa is simply spread on the platter, but in reality, there are six separate nest foundations, which will make it easier to serve. An ice cream scoop forms neat uniform balls, which are the actual nests, so they need indentations on top.
And the Firebird flies over them and deposits magical caviar eggs into every nest. How many? I don’t know about your Firebird; mine laid about half-a-teaspoon each. Perhaps yours is more generous; in that case, you’ll need a deeper nest. Serve chilled and dazzle your guests the way I dazzled mine!
- 8 oz lox, diced (I use lox ends)
- 8 oz non-dairy cream cheese (dairy alternative is possible)
- 2 – 3 tablespoons non-dairy sour cream (dairy alternative is possible)
- 1 tablespoon diced fresh chives
- 3 – 4 teaspoons red (salmon) caviar
- 2 oz Alfalfa sprouts
- Blend cream cheese with sour cream until fluffy and airy, add diced lox and chives, mix well.
- Line serving plate with individual portions of Alfalfa sprouts. Using ice cream scoop or tablespoon, form balls of creamy mixture, place on top of alfalfa.
- Using ice cream scoop or tablespoon, make indentations on top of each ball. Place 1/2 teaspoon or more in each indentation.
- Garnish with curled scallion greens and/ or basil leaves. Serve chilled.